By Steve Jones
Fall doesn't arrive for nearly four months, but it's already here for the state's four Division I football teams. Maryland, Navy, Towson and Morgan State all open their seasons on Labor Day weekend.
Towson is coming off of its best season in 25 years. With 16 starters returning from last year's 9-3 CAA championship team, coach Rob Ambrose's Tigers should be in contention for a second consecutive NCAA playoff berth. Rising sophomore Terrance West and senior Dominique Booker will be joined by newcomer Navassa Brown (141 yards rushing during the spring game) in what should be a potent Tiger ground game.
After finishing 5-7 and missing a bowl game for the first time in nine years, Navy is primed for a successful season. Junior quarterback Trey Miller has replaced the graduated Kriss Proctor and will rely on senior backs Gee Gee Greene and John Howell as the Midshipmen try to replicate last year's fourth-ranked rushing offense. Senior linebackers Matt Warrick, Matt Brewer and Brye French will anchor the Navy defense.
Maryland appears headed for a long season. The transfers of 13 players, including two-year starting quarterback Danny O'Brien and both starting offensive tackles, have significantly weakened coach Randy Edsall's roster.
It will be worth watching senior defensive tackle Joe Vellano, who could be a first-team All-American. Senior linebackers Kenny Tate and Demetrius Hartsfield will also strengthen the defense. Yet the offense, without O'Brien and running back Davin Meggett, who graduated, could struggle to score points.
As coach Donald Hill-Eley begins his second decade at Morgan State, the Bears have become a factor in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. But can Morgan improve enough to make an NCAA playoff appearance for the first time since 1979? The Bears will rely heavily on sophomore quarterback Seth Higgins, and will have to replace Jourdan Brooks, Lamont Bryant and Zary Stewart, ex-Bears who will be in NFL training camps this summer.
Issue 173: May 2012